Ural Maintenance Information for New and Prospective Ural Owners
Like many motorcyclists interested in purchasing a Ural,
I traced the progress of this brand for several years while Ural America
established its market. Both the motorcycling press and the Ural owner's
community agree that overall reliability and product quality continually
improved up to the current model year (2001). This was one of the important
factors that helped make my decision to purchase a leftover 2000 Deco Classic.
Two other factors were the extremely active and enthusiastic user community,
and the reputation of Ural America for supporting that community.
I knew in advance, that by today's standards, this would
be a maintenance-intensive motorcycle. However, I underestimated the level
of meticulous and frequent maintenance required; and more importantly,
just how critical that maintenance would be.
Use this data at your own risk. The author assumes
no liability for any injury or damage incurred by the reader. This document
is intended for informational use only.
This document has three sections:
Provide general guidelines for maintaining a Ural
Identify discrepancies and vagueness in both the Ural Owner's
Manual and the Repair Manual
Provide specific details of the critical 2500km break-in
I - General Guidelines for Maintaining a Ural:
6 key areas follow:
1. Never take maintenance items for granted
2. Understand common Ural failures
3. Too often is better than not often enough
4. Ural manuals are poor quality
5. Lubrication is your friend
6. Vinyl and rubber dressing is your friend
7. Don't expect direct help from Ural America
1. Never take maintenance items for granted
Most maintenance items on modern motorcycles are "checks"
to verify that something is set correctly, is tight, is filled, etc. The
majority of these checks result in no adjustments or further maintenance.
As such, some of us eventually tend to skip certain checks, or give them
the quick once-over.
You will be making a big mistake if you do the
same with your Ural.
Prior to the 2500km tune-up, my motorcycle was driven
strictly in accordance with Ural's break-in procedures. It was babied.
Despite that, here are some maintenance items that needed adjustment on
my Ural's first 2500km tune-up - which had never needed attention during
routine maintenance on any other motorcycle I've owned - ever.
Cylinder bolt torque: All four of the lower cylinder bolts
were loose. Oil was weeping onto the engine case and frame
Cylinder head (sometimes called valve head) bolt torque:
these too were loose
Oil pan bolts were loose
Nuts and screws inside wheel hubs were loose
Brake rod (stay) cotter pin missing
There were several other types of adjustments required
during this maintenance which, frankly, surprised me. These same types
of adjustments were necessary on my previous motorcycles only in the rarest
circumstances, and only after significant mileage or age had occurred.
When the manual tells you to daily check the bolts
that hold the final drive to the swing arm, and the electrical connection
bolts on the alternator, do it - anyway.
The point here is that you must be thorough in your maintenance
regimen. If a manual says to check it, check it. If the manual doesn't
specify that you should check, adjust, or maintain something that you've
routinely done in your previous experience - do it anyway.
This bike will leave you stranded if not maintained properly.
Try to minimize the chances of this happening.
2. Understand common Ural failures
Read a few months' worth of Ural user forums, noting
reoccurring posts. When you see more than one person with the same problem
- think of it as your problem. It probably will be - eventually. Good examples
of this are the main cylinder bolts (as previously mentioned). After seeing
several posts about "jugs" coming loose on their owner's - in transit,
I checked mine (per the manual), even though no motorcycle I've ever owned
needed the cylinders torqued during routine maintenance (because they were
always already at the correct setting). Good thing I did. Another pluperfect
example is the lock washer on my left driver's footpeg. A post I read recounted
some poor slob that had his drivers footpeg come loose - in transit - and
a host of damage that it caused. I checked mine even though it wasn't listed
as a maintenance item. Good thing I did. The lock washer was broken into
three pieces. Another good example is electrical system failures. Make
sure all electrical connections are good, tight, and solid. Finally, after
reading about numerous drive shaft failures, I pulled mine. The splines
were dry as a bone.
3. Too often is better than not often enough
It doesn't hurt, and can only help, to perform some
maintenance items more frequently than called for. Many of my maintenance
items were not called for until later maintenance intervals, but I performed
them anyway. Reasons for this varied. One was reason being that I had read
about common failures, and didn't want to take a chance. Another was that
I did not own this demo-bike for the first 1700km, and I felt it was better
to be safe than sorry. Finally, I wanted to gain experience in many areas,
and this was as good a time as any. Some examples of this are the drive
shaft (as mentioned above), replacing the gearbox oil (good thing too,
because it was silver in color due to the large amount of metal particles),
fully lubricating all cables and corresponding pivot points and
Spark pulgs are a good example of this type of preventive
maintenance. The Maintenance Schedule Summary calls for replacement every
10,000km. However, with the high number of forum posts relating to fouled
plugs, it's a good idea to replace them more frequently; especially if
you experience any uneven idle or other carburetor-related problems.
Also, given that the spark plugs themselves have apparently changed (see
the table of discrepancies, below), there's no way to know if the .040
gap indicated on page 157 of the Repair Manual is even valid.
Daily Maintenance is called for the electric connections
on the alternator (page 46, Owner's Manual) and the final drive/swing-arm
nuts (page 25, Owner's Manual). When was the last time you checked
those daily on a motorcycle? During the week of 20 March, 2001,
there was a post about yet another drive shaft failure, and a post
about some poor stranded slob whose white alternator wire broke. Never
take anything for granted!
4. Ural manuals are poor quality
The Ural Owner's Manual and Repair Manual
are of very poor quality. This is significant due to the maintenance required
for these motorcycle; as well as their uniqueness. Most owner's perform
their own maintenance due to the wide and isolated disbursal of dealers;
and are therefore, very dependent upon these essential manuals. There are
a number of discrepancies and vague areas that are independently documented
in the second section of this manual, Identify discrepancies and vagueness
in both the Ural Owner's Manual and the Repair Manual.
5. Lubrication is your friend
A very effective way to prevent component failure is
to lubricate thoroughly and frequently. I went so far as to lubricate the
cams inside the wheel hubs (which was not called for until a later interval).
There was grease evident on the outside, but contact points were pretty
dry. Due to posts about broken cables - in transit, and because this was
something I'd done with older motorcycles, I lubricated all my cables with
a pressure lubricator. I followed this by lubricating all the corresponding
pivot points, nipples and stops. My clutch cable had a squeak at the bottom
end of the cable that was evident even after I lubricated it. While lubricating
all corresponding clutch cable pivot points, I sprayed chain lube in and
around the rod and hinge at the lower end of the clutch cable (at the rear
of the engine case). After about 3 applications, the squeak stopped. I
also lubricated the entire parking brake assembly, the sidecar trunk lid
hinges and locking arm, and the L-shaped rear seat brackets, as well as
others. Would my Ural have suffered some catastrophic failure - in transit
- had I not lubricated the seat brackets? Never take anything for granted!
6. Vinyl and rubber dressing is your friend
Why does Ural tire rubber and vinyl suck up Armor-All
like animals at a Sahara watering hole? Because they need it! Already,
my Ural mudflaps have cracks on both sides, at the bends. Can't do much
for them; however the carb flanges (also a common failure) can be prolonged
thru weekly dressing. Treat all your rubber and vinyl: ignition cables
and caps, control cables, rubber stoppers, signal lenses, footpegs, etc.
Never take anything for granted! If neglected, they will crack,
break, split and tear.
7. Don't expect direct help from Ural America
Ural America follows the typical model of providing
technical support to their customers through their dealer network. This
model is flawed for manufacturers of a relatively small number of motorcycles,
typically sold to a niche corner of the motorcycling public. As noted above
in number 4, owners perform much of their own maintenance, due to the wide
disbursal of dealers. When accurate information cannot be obtained through
any other source (including the dealers, who are also largely dependent
on the same manuals the owners use), Ural America must be available and
willing to provide that information directly to Ural owner's. They are
Hopefully, my experience is the exception, rather than
the rule. However, I have not received any significant help from Ural's
Technical Support staff. There are a large number of discrepancies within
and between the manuals; and also, the information is often unclear or
seemingly contradictory. It is critical that Ural Technical Support be
responsive to their customers. They are not. Emails go unanswered. You
cannot speak with them directly on the phone. It seems that Ural America's
success has been despite their Technical Support program. Look at the number
of questions, problems and posts regarding valve clearance adjustments.
There are two poorly documented techniques in separate sections in the
repair manual. There are at least two other methods commonly used within
the community. When you're unable to accurately, precisely, and consistently
set your valve clearances using any method - where do you turn?
When you need to know the fluid capacity of your final drive and the manuals
are discrepant, and the user forums give different answers, where do you
turn? User forum information is good, but it's no replacement for specific
information and support on technical matters that that only Ural America
can and should provide.
II - Identification of discrepancies and vaguenessin
the Ural Owner's Manual and the Repair Manual:
Discrepancies are detailed in the following table, where
OM is the Owner's Manual, RM is the Repair Manual, and TB
is Technical Bulletin:
and OM say capacity is .9L/1 Qt
OM List of Recommended Lubricants says
30 Oz oil, 12 Oz Hyper Lube for a total of 42 Oz
TB says 34 Oz
List of Recommended
Schedule Summaries say to change every 5000km; Lubrication Chart footnote
says "at 500km and then every 5,000km", but the chart itself says every
say NGK BP8HVX
Newer bikes come with NGK BP7HS
Entry in User's Forum from dealer (Wagner
Cycles) indicates that "they came to the definite decision last Spring
to run the NGK BP7HS". Is the .040" gap referred to on page 157 of the
Repair Manual valid for NGK BP7HS, or only for the previous NGK
and corresponding chart
is OK. RM is different, and has the following problems:
18 items listed in chart, only 16 show
item 1 refers to a mechanical timing unit
(points, cam and felt) that does not exist on newer models - and does not
specify what this item is (I called the dealer to find out)
item 18 on the chart is not shown on the
all other items on the chart are off by
1 (subtract 1 from the chart reference number to get the actual diagram
Says gap between
brake shoes and drum should be 1.6-2.0mm/0.06-0.08in. All other references
The manuals are rife with vague and unclear procedures.
Although this is somewhat subjective, the large number of these problem
areas is sure to impact more owners than if they were updated to be more
clear and concise. I have only documented those areas that were particularly
troublesome to me during my initial 2500km maintenance. It is assumed that
these areas will also cause problems for other new owner's as well.
There is no index in the Repair Manual or in the Owner's
Manual. There needs to be.
A single maintenance item is covered across several sections
There is virtually no single place you can go to read
the procedures about a given maintenance item. You have to traverse through
several sections and sometimes even have to reference multiple documents
(e.g., OM, RM, TB). Often, maintenance items are only covered in detail
in a repair section. Sometimes there is a different technique used between
the two (valve clearance adjustment is a good example of this). The problem
is so endemic that I have compiled a cross-reference matrix (that immediately
follows this section) to help make sense of it all.
I recommend retaining the current specifications and reference
charts, and the maintenance summaries; but placing them all in one place
near the front of each manual.
Also, I recommend an additional chart to show items that
need to be checked on a regular basis. For example, there is an
obscure reference on page 24 of the Owner's Manual that says to
check the gearbox oil level every 500km. Similarly, page 25 and 46 indicate
the need to daily check the drive shaft/swingarm nuts and the alternator
and its connections (respectively).
Here's a sample:
and swingarm nuts
OM 25; RM 138
nuts which fasten the final drive to the swingarm. Failure to tighten the
nuts in due time results in loose joints and destruction of the final drive
OM 46; RM 147
Check the wire
insulation and electrical connectors, especially the alternator battery
terminal connections. Also check fastening of the alternator on the engine
crankcase. With engine running, listen for correct backlash of the alternator
pressure and inspect tread for punctures, cuts, breaks, etc. at least weekly
if in daily use or before each trip, if used occasionally.
A welcome format change would be to have a complete
maintenance section in the Owner's Manual, and a comprehensive maintenance
section in the Repair Manual. The following organization is suggested
for each maintenance item (using throttle control cables as an example):
control cables and all corresponding pivot points
Lightweight oil like 5w fork oil, or heavy spray lubricant like chain lube
For pivot points: Heavy spray lubricant
like chain lube or common bearing grease
For throttle (grip): Lightweight spray
Remove the upper half of the throttle
housing by removing 2 screws from the lower half, leaving the shorter center
screw in place (holding the lower half affixed to the handle bar).
Remove the upper ends of the cables from
the housing by pushing up on the lower end of the throttle cable (down
at the carburetor) to provide just enough slack to remove the top nipple
from the upper metal stop/bracket. (See illustration below).
Leave the lower ends of the throttle cables
affixed to the carburetor brackets and wedge a small rag underneath to
catch the drips
Attach the lubrication mechanism (see
Note (a) below) and lubricate fully until lubricant is visible at the lower
end. This can be facilitated by repeatedly moving the cable core up and
Lubricate the throttle (grip) with a light
weight spray lubricant
Lubricate all pivot points on the lower
end, at the carburetor bracketry, with a heavy spray lubricant like chain
lube, or common bearing grease.
Reassemble and check your work for smooth
even motion without binding or drag.
Verify carburetor synchronization using
the procedures in section XX, on page XX of the Repair Manual.
mechanisms can be a syringe-type pressure lubricator (recommended), a clamp-on
lubricator designed for use with a spray lubricant, or a simple paper funnel
taped to the cable - using gravity feed.
b) Also see section XX of the Repair
Manual for complete carburetor synchronization procedures.
The sample above is based on my own personal experience.
Note that any information that is incorrect or unclear is a perfect
example of why we need this type of documentation from Ural America in
the first place!
Adjust Bearings: As complicated procedures, these should
be reviewed to see if they could be made more understandable for the layman.
Pictures, drawings and diagrams would help. An overview of the bearing
assembly and how it all works together would help. Step 5 is the actual
adjustment, and needs more detail. For example, it says to "Screw the seal
nut up to the limit". What is "the limit"? How tight do you make it before
backing it off? From which direction is the rear axle inserted into the
hub? Does it matter? Each step should also include what is happening (to
the bearings, spacers, etc) when you do it. Also helpful would be careful
instruction of what not to do. (See complete procedure details in
the Specific details of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance
section, item 14)
Adjust Valve Clearances: As a critical setting, procedures
that detail how to adjust the valve clearances should be comprehensively
covered in one place. They should include detailed instructions for using
both the TDC and valve-opening/closing methods (as well as any other method
that the manufacturer deems acceptable). They should include information
on what parameters are acceptable - and what to do when you cannot get
them within those parameters. For example, I used the TDC method to set
my valves; but used both the TDC and the opening/closing-valve methods
to verify. I could only get them within the following parameters: >=.002
and <=.006. (See complete procedure details in the Specific details
of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance section, item 18)
The actual adjustment procedures seem to indicate that
if you adjust the brake-shoe/drum gap to.3-.7mm/.012-.028in you should
also have a corresponding lever free play of 5-8mm front and 25-30mm rear.
This says to me: set the gap and verify the lever free play. If the lever
free play is not correct, adjust the spacers inside the hub(s) to achieve
proper gap and lever play. The procedures need to be more understandable.
This could be accomplished through a sentence or two indicating clearly
what is to be done; then step-by-step instructions on how to do it.
The note, on the bottom of page 52 of the Repair Manual
needs to be re-written to clarify what is being noted - and why. It is
very technical, mostly indecipherable, and does not seem to apply to routine
maintenance of the brakes.
(See complete procedure details in the Specific details
of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance section, item 15)
Sidecar toe-in and lean-out procedures need to include techniques
that can be used by average Ural owners that do not have access to specialized
alignment equipment. Not just what to do, but also, how to
do it. I knew all about these settings from a very good Velorex manual;
however, it was still pretty much a mystery on how I could check and adjust
it according to the Ural manual - without specialized equipment. Procedures
should provide detailed steps on how the average Ural owner can check and
set these alignments. (See complete procedure details in the Specific
details of the critical 2500km break-in maintenance section, item 13)
List of Recommended Lubricants:
This list, appearing on page 51 of the Owner's Manual
is the only chart that provides details on the mixture, or ratio of
Hyper Lube and oil. If, as I understand, this is the manufacturer's recommendation,
this type of information should be included in all relevant fluid capacity
charts and references. (Most references to lubricants do not currently
specify Hyper Lube to oil/lubricant ratio).
Lubrication Chart, page 50, Owner's Manual:
Footnote 3 for engine oil says "20W/50 Det. Oil and
Hyper Lube Supplement"; while footnote 4 for final drive only says "Hyper
Lube Supplement" - which could be misinterpreted to mean only use
Hyper Lube in the final drive.
The Maintenance Schedule Summaries in both manuals indicate
the need to check battery fluid level. Newer models are sealed units. This
should be updated.
Maintenance Schedule Summary
Page 6 of the Repair Manual has a both a paragraph
and a section with this title. One needs to be changed. For example, rename
the Maintenance Schedule Summary paragraph to General Maintenance Information.
Also, the Maintenance Schedule Summary paragraph distinguishes between
"Normal Duty" and "Light Duty" and the type of maintenance that applies
to each. No other references to these classifications could be found. They
should be either emphasized throughout the manual (by directly addressing
the different maintenance required for each), or these references should
be removed.Tune-up Cross-reference Matrix
The following table provides an incomplete cross-reference
for tune-up items as they appear in the manuals; where OM is the Owner's
Manual and RM is the Repair Manual.
List of Recommended
Pick up Rotor
Bearings and Damper
Toe-in, and Mount Points
Check All Fasteners
and Cylinder Heads
III - Specific details of the critical 2500km break-in
The following items were performed during the initial
2500km maintenance of my 2000 Deco. Not all were required for this maintenance.
However, had I not performed some of these extra steps, there would likely
have been dire consequences. One example is setting the proper torque on
my (main) cylinder nuts. All four of the lower nuts were loose. Oil was
weeping onto the engine case and frame. Another example is the gearbox
oil, which was silver in color due to the large amount of metal particles.
The order indicated below is not precisely the order in which I performed
the maintenance - but should have.
Grease or lubricate all cable pivot points, brackets,
Grease or lubricate external front and sidecar brake linkage
I removed the upper/top end of each cable in order to
lubricate them. Even though the lower ends of the cables were usually visible
(the speedo cable was not), I removed them anyway in order to grease the
pivot points and/or nipples.
Notes on Throttle cables:
The lower ends of the throttle cables I left affixed to the
carb bracket, and just wedged a small rag underneath to catch the drips
The bottom half of the throttle housing can remain attached
to the handlebar (via the small, center screw) - but it doesn't hurt to
remove it entirely.
You don't have to complete disassemble and remove the little
chain assembly. You can push up the throttle cable from down at the carb
to provide (just) the slack you need to remove the top nipple from the
upper metal stop/bracket.
Speedo cable: I couldn't pull the core (even with lower
end removed), so I filled the little cup at the upper female threads end
with chain lube about 7 times. I finally blew on the top to force it through,
and out the bottom.
2. Clean and oil air filter
3. Lubricate footpeg hinges and shift lever shaft
4. Clean petcock and screen
5. Replace fuel filters
6. Check steering head bearings
7. Replace final drive oil
8. Sync carbs
9. Replace spark plugs
10. Change engine oil and filter
11. Change gearbox oil
12. Remove drive (propeller) shaft and grease splines
and universal joint. Replace and torque final drive nuts to swing arm.
13. Adjust lean-out, toe-in; check all sidecar mount points.
For Toe-in, I used very straight 8' wooden baseboards.
I propped up the board on the motorcycle side by using 2x4 blocks, equally
high, just under the left exhaust, and against the tire edges (making sure
the front wheel was pointed straight forward). I propped up the baseboard
on the sidecar side equally high, fitting snugly against the tire edges,
just under the hub. I then measured the distance from just under the rear
wheel hub perpendicularly to the sidecar baseboard, just behind the tire.
The manual calls for you to measure between the rear axles, but this is
not a perpendicular measurement on my model as the sidecar wheel is about
1 foot forward (I suspect the instructions only apply to 2-wheel drive
units). I then measured the front from under the front hub, perpendicularly
to the baseboard. Did the subtraction and adjusted accordingly.
I eyeballed the lean-out, for lack of a better technique
and adjusted out a little. Then I re-checked the toe-in to make sure nothing
14. Wheel bearings: With wheels on: pre-check wheel bearings
by looking for side-to-side play, loose dust covers and axle nuts. With
wheels off: Note that front axle is a left-handed thread pattern. Put the
bike up with all 3 wheels off the ground. Check and adjust wheel bearings,
lubricate external rear brake linkage and pedal and verify the cotter pin
is secure in the brake rod stay (cross-pin)
With the wheels off:
I finger-checked the inside. Spacers felt loose, and I assumed
this to be OK because they felt the same after adjusting. All bearings
rotated freely and smoothly.
I took the rear axle and inserted it into the closed side
of the hub (not the side showing the inside of the drum). I cut a 4 in
spacer from metal tubing to fit over the protruding axle. It fitted up
against some part of the bearing/race/spacer assembly - but I'm not sure
exactly what it was. This should be clarified by Ural.
Then I used a couple of large washers and the axle nut and
hand tightened (as tight as I could). Next I check for slop, abrasiveness
or drag by turning the axle.
Now I removed the axle, spacer tube, washers and axle nut.
Finally, I performed step 5 in the Repair Manual which was to loosen
the locknut (on the outside of the hub where you first inserted the axle),
tighten down the inner "seal nut", pretty darn tight. The manual says to
"Screw the seal nut up to the limit". What is "the limit"? This needs to
be made more clear - how tight to you cinch this down? I then backed it
off about a quarter turn. The manual calls for 1/8 to 1/6 turn for backing
off the "seal nut" after you tighten it "to the limit". But when I only
did it that much, upon re-check, everything was tight, and the axle wouldn't
turn freely. It felt like it was dragging, so I backed it off more.
Finally, I rechecked the whole thing by re-inserting the
axle, spacer tube, washers, and axle nut as originally performed.
15. Adjust brakes: Put the bike up with all 3 wheels off
the ground and removed:
Grease pivot points (cam area). I used screwdrivers as levers,
carefully prying each area just enough to gain access with a Q-tip, toothpick,
and a small flat blade screwdriver. Sometimes, I had to pry up from different
areas to gain full access.
Grease entire parking brake handle and shaft assembly
Lube any linkage that hasn't already been done; examine hubs,
pads and drums and tighten screws in rear hub. I found the sidecar brake
drum had no indication of wear. It actually had rust on it and no brake
dust. So I think it wasn't engaging at all); clean off brake dust
Rotate wheels, install and adjust brake shoe/drum gap. I
chose to not set them according to the gap with a feeler. Instead, I adjusted
the front according to free play at the lever (I had to loosen the front
upon re-check because there was just the slightest drag in one spot). For
the rear and sidecar, I adjusted both to the point they were engaged. Then
I backed the rear off until it turned freely. Since the rear wheel spins
a little less freely due to the drive shaft linkage, I backed off the adjusting
nut a few more turns - with no apparent affect. I simply backed off the
adjusting nut on the sidecar until it spun freely. With the rig back on
the ground, I rolled the entire rig back and forth listening at each hub
for any slight dragging sounds. Upon road-checking, I found it was pulling
hard to the right. I screwed the rear-wheel adjuster back in a few turns.
16. Set ignition coil pick-up air gap
17. Torque cylinder nuts, and cylinder head (stud) nuts
18. Adjust valves:
Initially I tried to use the opening/closing-valve methods
to set the valve clearances. However, I was never able to get consistent
readings upon re-checking the settings. The readings were wildly inconsistent,
anywhere from 0 clearance to .007. Part of the problem is that it is very
difficult to determine the precise point at which you should set the clearances
(or re-check the settings). I eventually used the TDC method to set the
clearances. I was both surprised and disappointed that this method yielded
only slightly better results. I've used this same method on over a dozen
motorcycles over the last 22 years, and have always (without exception)
been able to precisely set and verify valve clearances. I used both the
TDC and the opening/closing-valve methods to verify the final settings.
I could only get the valve clearances set to between >=.002 and <=.006.
Anytime I tried to tighten up that outside .006 reading, it would result
in at least one subsequent re-check of less than .002 - which was unacceptable.
19. Check and set spoke tension
20. Dress all rubber and vinyl
21. Check all fasteners for tightness (especially electrical
and alternator connections, oil pan bolts, foot peg lock washers for breakage)
22. Adjust clutch lever free-play
23. Grease underside of seat (L-shaped brackets), all
side car hinges (trunk lid and lock-bar, windshield). Note that to remove
the seat, first unscrew the 17mm nut on the front underside (above the
battery). Then it helps to press down firmly on the rear of the seat, raise
the front and force the whole seat forward - towards the gas tank.